Gender Inequality After 55 Years of the Equal Pay Act of 1963

April 13, 2018

The University of Alabama School of Law, Tuscaloosa
8:30 a.m.
6, including 1 hour of ethics

               The enactment of the Equal Pay Act of 1963 was a milestone achievement in the fight towards gender equality in the United States. At the time of its passage, women earned nearly 59% of the amount earned by their male counterparts while performing the same work. An amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, the Equal Pay Act prohibits sex-based wage discrimination “for equal work on jobs the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions.”

               Though the gender wage gap has been significantly narrowed, an argument can be made that the goals of the Equal Pay Act have not been achieved. While white women now earn, compared to their white male counterparts, 82 cents on the dollar, the statistics look strikingly grim for women of color: black women earn 65 cents on the dollar, and Latina women earn 58 cents on the dollar. The reality of the gender wage gap becomes clearly visible when looking at statistics of transgender individuals. A study published by the B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy shows that the earnings for female transgender workers fell by almost one-third following their transition.

American society is on the cusp of a gender revolution. Transgender men and women are taking to the courts to demand for the equal protection of the law. In unprecedented numbers, women are taking to the streets to secure their autonomy, both physical and societal. And the power of women, coming together to shape the future of our country, extends beyond the seemingly unending battle for reproductive rights. Some of the most influential social justice movements of this decade–for example, Black Lives Matter, and the NoDAPL and Women’s March movements–were created and led by women. As is often the change with successful social justice movements, for the advancements gained through the efforts of activists to be secured requires a change in the legal paradigm.

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Stephanie Bornstein                     
Associate Professor                       
University of Florida Levin College of Law

Mary Anne Case (Keynote Speaker)        
Arnold I Shure Professor Of Law 
University of Chicago Law School

Andrea Ritchie                              
Researcher in Residence on Race, Gender, Sexuality and Criminalization
Barnard Center for research on Women

Adam P. Romero
Director of Legal Scholarship and Federal Policy, and Arnold D. Kassoy Scholar of Law
The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law

Katharine Young 
Associate Professor of Law
Boston College Law School